Following your labyrinth | Himy Syed’s latest ‘outstallation’ project can be found on Woodbine Beach
For his latest “outstallation” project, a giant labyrinth in the form of a three-leaf clover, West Toronto resident Himy Syed uses the Beach as his canvas.
Syed’s Triskelion Labyrinth can be found on Woodbine Beach, just east of the Donald D. Summerville Outdoor Pool.
He started the project about a week ago and had hoped to finish it by St. Patrick’s Day, but life got a little busy and he’s now hoping to wrap up the project in the next few days.
Creating large-scale public art for more than a decade, Syed said this latest labyrinth hasn’t taken as long as others to create as he had already worked out the measurements. He was also able to use the rocks he’d collected from a previous labyrinth he’d created last year just steps away.
Over the years, Syed has devoted countless hours of his free time creating more than 80 giant public art projects across the city.
An Islamic banking consultant as well as an activist on municipal issues, Syed Is the creator of the Toronto City of Labyrinths Project, which aims to create a labyrinth within walking distance of every Torontonian inside the city’s limits. More information about his pieces can be found at www.labyrinths.ca
Some of his giant outstallations, as he calls them, include a spiral garden, a gigantic mermaid, a giant dog labyrinth and a replica of a piece called Peace Sanctuary by B.C. artist Deryk Houston.
In 2009, he decided to take a break from the Beach and do a project elsewhere in the city as “troublemakers” had been dismantling his outstallations shortly after he’d created them. He also took a year off in 2010 to run for mayor of Toronto.
In 2011, Syed gave the eastern beaches another chance after receiving several emails and Twitter messages from random Torontonians who missed the public art installations and were willing to help with their upkeep.
“I’ve gotten to know the natural life cycle of the Beach, the shore,” said Syed, who lived in the east end several years ago and attended Earl Grey Senior Public School and Malvern Collegiate. Back then, he’d come down to the beach almost daily after school.
Syed said he’s motivated to continue making more giant outstallations by the joy they bring to people, especially children as their minds grow and develop.
“A labyrinth is not a maze. There’s one entrance, one exit. It’s like a metaphor for the steps, the path we follow in life,” he said as a family with a young daughter stops to check out his latest creation.
“I’m smiling as wide as Queen Street. I’m so happy because I know I have permanently and positively changed a child’s life.”
Syed said he especially enjoys chatting with people who come by to check out his pieces.
“I get re-energized with the conversations,” he said.
“I bring the gallery where it’s not expected and people are surprised.”
Last year, Syed led the inaugural City of Labyrinths Jane’s Walk.
“I was expecting a dozen people to come out. I stopped counting at 68,” smiled Syed, who will lead another Jane’s Walk about labyrinths on Saturday, May 5 – World Labyrinth Day. The event is set to get underway at 6 p.m. outside the Christie subway station.